West Virginia statewide tornado drill is Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Officials are asking West Virginia families, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and government agencies to use a statewide tornado test alert to simulate the plan for a real tornado.

West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says testing plans helps prepare everyone for severe weather when it does occur.

The alert begins at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday . Sirens will blare, weather alert radios will activate and test emergency broadcast messages will interrupt television and radio programming.

During a real tornado warning, families are advised to gather in their basements or in small interior rooms with no windows on the lowest level of their home until the warning is over. Motorists should avoid parking below overpasses or bridges and wait out the warning in a low, flat site.

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has signed a proclamation designating March 18-22 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state.

As part of severe-weather-awareness activities, a statewide tornado drill will be held at approximately 10:30 a.m. on March 19.

The National Weather Service, in partnership with West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, West Virginia Weather Preparedness Committee and West Virginia Broadcasters Association, will issue a tornado-warning message.

Warning sirens will sound, weather-alert radios will activate, and television and radio stations will broadcast the alert. The drill is designed to give residents an opportunity to practice tornado-safety measures.

All residents, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, educators and government agencies are encouraged to participate in the drill and update their emergency plans as needed.

"Severe weather is West Virginia’s most constant threat," said Michael Todorovich, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

He added that the agency is committed to ensuring residents are prepared for all types of hazards

“The anniversary of the Shinnston Tornado that killed 153 West Virginians 75 years ago serves as a warning to heighten our preparedness," he said. "Testing your emergency plan during Severe Weather Awareness Week, whether with family members or co-workers, helps ensure we all will be ready for the next severe weather event in the state.”